Barbara Bauer-Kropf - Schwan-STABILO Cosmetics is market leader in volume and revenue (with a global market share of 40 %) for cosmetic pencils and produces around 400 million units globally.
Sharpenable pencils (wood clenched and plastic molded pencils) account for about 50 % of production, mechanical pencils for about 30 %, and liquid color, Mascara, powder products for about 20 %.
Premium Beauty News - What do you think will be tomorrow’s main make-up trends that should drive today’s current research?
Barbara Bauer-Kropf - The Schwan-STABILO group is a family-owned company with a long history. Founded in 1855, the company is now run by its fifth generation. With the first eyebrow pencil in 1927 - in the beginning surgical marker pens, the company’s expertise in writing instruments was applied to a completely new sector – cosmetics. Since then, innovative developments from Schwan-STABILO Cosmetics have consistently had an impact on the industry, for example the direct moulding process.
Schwan-STABILO Cosmetics stands for innovation, product safety, quality and sustainability at a competitive price. We believe that these are the core elements the consumer and ultimately our customers are looking for. Our R&D department is permanently guided by these key values for the development of new products.
Premium Beauty News - What is the annual amount of your R&D investments?
Barbara Bauer-Kropf - The history of Schwan-STABILO Cosmetics has always been one of technological innovation. Today more than 120 chemists and engineers work in advanced and applied R&D to ensure Schwan’s competitive advantage. We invested EUR 9.1 million in R&D spendings during the fiscal year 2008 / 2009. Interdisciplinary teams (packaging, formulation, pharmaceutical) works closely together and eventually joint projects have been set up with customers.
Premium Beauty News - What about your international development? You have just taken over Cosmolab, what are your ambitions for this company?
Barbara Bauer-Kropf - Today the Cosmetics Division has a workforce of approximately 2500 across the world. In addition to the headquarters in Heroldsberg, in Germany, there are production sites in China, the Czech Republic, the USA, Colombia, Mexico and Brazil. In 2008, 40 % of the production being achieved outside Germany. Sharpenable lip pencils, mascara or liquid liners recently pulled in 180 million euros in sales for the company (without Cosmolab). The market with the strongest sales is North America, which accounts for 44 percent, followed by Europe at 36 percent and then Asia.
Schwan-STABILO Cosmetics has a truly global manufacturing and sourcing network. All our subsidiaries are headed by local managers, this way we assure that we are tightly connected to the specific needs of the individual markets. Our customers appreciate the fact that they can directly profit from the network in the economic or geographic area they operate in. The acquisition of Cosmolab in March perfectly fits the strategy of the Schwan-STABILO group, which is expanding its footprint in the US.
Premium Beauty News - In terms of make-up, will you extend your offer and, if so, rather to which area?
Barbara Bauer-Kropf - We have recently expanded into loose and pressed powder products and there are no plans for further expansion.
Premium Beauty News - The French market remains a strategic market for most businesses like yours. Yet you do not have a presence there.
Barbara Bauer-Kropf - We can easily be in Paris within an hour! Our sales team consists of only native speakers that can be at the customer’s office the next day and actually travel to Paris every other week.
At the same time the proximity to product development/ management as well as production and customer service (logistics) ensures that our sales managers are well versed in all details of the supply chain and can consult the customer on each aspect - not only sales issues. This is very important to us because our customers value like we do excellent and professional project management as a Unique Selling Proposition.
Premium Beauty News - Eventually, what assets do you rely on to maintain your leadership?
Barbara Bauer-Kropf - We see ourselves as trend forecasters and advisors for pencils and liquid liner products and with this specialized knowledge assist our customers in achieving sustained market success in these segment. Due to the ever changing market place we take constant efforts in re-aligning all activities and processes to adapt to the end consumers and customers benefit.